Prof. Williamson Receives Global Economy Prize


Nobel Prize Laureate and Berkeley-Haas Prof. Emeritus Oliver Williamson received the Global Economy Prize Feb. 2 from the Kiel Institute for World Affairs in Germany.

The Kiel Institute, one of Europe’s top think tanks devoted to economics, recognized Williamson for his lifelong work in economics.

The institute noted that Williamson opted out of a secure career as an engineer to study economics.

His groundbreaking work in the field led to a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009.

“With his insights into transaction costs and business mergers, [Williamson] made a significant contribution to the emergence of new competition policy,” said Dennis Snower, president of the Kiel Institute, in a statement. “Thanks to him, we now have much more effective regulation, which benefits society as a whole.”

“Oliver Williamson’s work is both pioneering and profound,” Dean Rich Lyons said. “He’s created a lifelong body of work that continues to carry influence in economics, law, and government. And as if that weren’t enough, he’s one of the best all-around people I know. We’re lucky to have him as a colleague and a friend.”

Since 2005, the Kiel Institute has hailed three global leaders annually in the categories of business, politics, and science for their creativity and daring in coming up with solutions to many of the world’s biggest problems. The two other honorees this year were Italy’s former Prime Minister Mario Monti for politics and German publisher Friede Springer for business.

Former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, and Harvard President Emeritus Lawrence Summers are among past honorees.

“I am very honored to receive this prize in global economics. It was unexpected,” Williamson said. “I am especially pleased that my students and other researchers have found so many empirical applications of my framework of transaction cost economics.”

Williamson, 83, is credited with coining the term “new institutional economics” in 1975, when he was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He later taught at Yale University before moving in 1988 to Berkeley, where he has held professorships in business administration, economics, and law. Williamson, who earned his MBA from Stanford University in 1960 and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in 1963, is now the Edgar F. Kaiser Professor Emeritus at Haas.

The Global Economy Prize is just the latest in a long string of accolades for Williamson.

On top of his Nobel Prize, Williamson has been awarded 13 honorary degrees. He’s served as a Fulbright Professor, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Distinguished Senior U.S. Scientist, among other notable positions. He’s also received numerous prizes and written six books, including “The Economic Institutions of Capitalism: Firms, Markets, Relational Contracting.”

A ceremony honoring the Global Economy Prize winners will be held in June in Kiel, Germany.